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Thursday, November 8, 2012

How Do You Define a Cult?

My daughter came home from school the other day and asked, "Mom, why do people call our church a 'cult?'"

Awesome question. I'd been waiting for this one.

image: flickr.com
First, we tried to define what a cult was very basically. We decided that people are persuaded by charismatic leaders to follow them blindly. People change their entire lives to follow and be part of the group.

I will admit that, yes, my life is changed because of my religion. I don't do things many in this world do. I live a different life than most, with clear boundaries to my conduct.  but I will also assert that I am no blind follower. I know what I believe, and I know the alternative. I love the safety I feel because of what I follow.

We delved further into the question, and I asked her what some areas are that we differ from many of her friends. Here are a couple we came up with in our few minutes together....

  • We don't have sex before marriage.
  • We don't live with others before marriage.
  • We don't do a lot of activities on Sundays--we dedicate the day to the Lord.
  • We go to church on Sunday.

We analyzed these things and considered where these "codes of conduct" come from. It was clear pretty quickly that they stem from the ten commandments. Interesting that many in the world find us so "unusual" and "cult"-ish for following the very basis of Christian belief.

image: fisheaters.com
Yes, there are other things that we do or don't do that others freely engage in and think us strange for doing or not, but the very core of the LDS religion is based solidly on following what Moses brought down from Mount Sinai and presented to the children of Israel.

So, was Moses a cult leader? Hmm....if you look at that from our modern lens, he and his followers sure have the qualifications. In my opinion, though, Moses was one of the greatest prophets that ever lived, and I think many in our world still believe this to be true. So, there's one more thing I believe in....prophets, and I believe that by following, we can be safely guided through tough times. They haven't let me down so far.

If you look closely, I believe you can begin to see many, many similarities between Moses' day and beliefs and what we believe.

So, it makes one wonder, why is our society still presenting this idea to my daughter's generation?

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